Report: Albion 3 Crystal Palace 0Albion boosted their play-off hopes with an empathic 3-0 victory over rivals Crystal Palace.
A magnificent free-kick from David Lopez and a brace from Leonardo Ulloa gave Seagulls supporters a day that will live long in the memory, as Gus Poyet’s side went level on points with sixth placed Leicester.
Having suffered a 3-0 reverse at Selhurst Park, Albion put in a dominant performance and thoroughly deserved the victory, as Palace saw their automatic promotion hopes dented.
In a boisterous atmosphere, the hosts controlled the early stages but goalmouth action was at a premium, with Andrea Orlandi’s blocked free-kick the only notable talking point.
However, it was the visitors who almost took the lead in bizarre circumstances as Matthew Upson’s miscued header was almost directed into his own net, but Tomasz Kuszczak got down excellently to palm the ball away.
Then Jonathan Parr wasted a great opening after being played through by Wilfried Zaha - the defender placing his effort into the hands of Kuszczak when clear in on goal.
A cleverly worked corner created the Seagulls’ first real opening, as Orlandi linked up with Inigo Calderon, but the full-back could not keep his first-time half-volley down.
Former Albion striker Glenn Murray then came close on 33 minutes but his guided header drifted wide.
It was a typical tight derby affair but Albion broke the deadlock minutes before the break to set up an extraordinary couple of minutes.
Will Buckley’s teasing cross was met by Ulloa at the back post, and the Argentinean nodded home from close range to the delight of the majority of the record crowd packed in the Amex.
And there was still time for more as Buckley was brought down on the edge of the area by Kagisho Dikgacoi. David stepped up to taking the resulting free-kick and curled a beautiful effort in off the bar as the stadium once again erupted.
Albion’s elation nearly extended further straight after half-time as Kazenga LuaLua burst down the left and drilled a low cross into the box, but Orlandi’s skilful flick towards goal did not get the better of Speroni.
The Seagulls were in the ascendancy and looked keen to kill the game off with a third goal, which duly arrived on 51 minutes.
Liam Bridcutt’s chipped ball into the box was headed back into the path of Ulloa by Orlandi, and the forward directed the ball past Speroni first time.
Substitute Andre Moritz tried to reduce the deficit with a powerful effort from distance but his effort flew safely over the bar.
With the game now stretched Albion found joy on the break as the Eagles poured forward in search of a lifeline.
The recalled LuaLua was a constant threat on the wing and he teed up Ulloa for his hat-trick, only for Damien Delaney’s excellent slide tackle preventing the forward from tapping in.
The Argentinean then burst through the Palace defence but saw his strike beaten out by Speroni, and the keeper had to be alert to deny Buckley on the rebound with the use of his body as the Seagulls looked to add further gloss to the scoreline.
The rain began to pour down as the game drew to a close but nothing could dampen the carnival atmosphere inside the ground as Albion secured their first victory over Palace since 2005.